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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rules out third term, says he ‘will hand over baton’

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Economy heading towards better times, no reason to despair : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Economy heading towards better times, no reason to despair : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

New Delhi –  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced that he will retire after the general election and not seek a third term even if his party defies predictions and is re-elected for a third consecutive term.

“In a few months’ time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new Prime Minister.  I hope it will be a UPA-chosen Prime Minister,” he said in his opening remarks at a press conference, his first in over three years.

Amid feverish speculation that his party is prepping the stage to announce its vice-president Rahul Gandhi as its presumptive prime minister, Dr Singh said, “I will not be candidate for prime ministership if UPA comes back to power.   Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the prime ministerial candidate.  I hope our party will take that decision at an appropriate time.”

In recent years, the union government has been ringed in with a series of mega corruption scandals with the Supreme Court finding gross irregularities in the allocation of valuable natural resources like telecom and mining rights. Dr Singh said that he had tried to push for a transparent bidding process but that “this is often forgotten.”

He said that despite the litany of alleged swindles that have created the perception of a government deeply entrenched in graft, “When the history is written of this period, we’ll come out unscathed.”

“I believe history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media or opposition parties,” he said, asserting that “I have never used my office to enrich or reward my friends or relatives.”

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